The location of a person’s residence in New York City is a bit like a trademark: it speaks volumes about a person’s status in society, about a person’s income and about a person’s wealth. The opening of the 96-story skyscraper at 432 Park Avenue was a much awaited event in the city’s real estate industry. Then building was advertised as one of the most expensive places to live in New York, and these entreaties convinced many of the city’s most wealthy families to purchase units. Now, many of these same families have joined in a lawsuit charging the builders with negligence, fraud and breach of contract.
The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs have been damaged in the amount of $125 million. The complaint alleges that the building is “riddled” with over “1500 identified construction and design defects.” One of the most surprising allegations is the charge that the building sways excessively in strong winds and that the swaying causes noises and vibrations that are “horrible and obtrusive.” The building’s elevators were supposed lower their speeds in high winds, but the plaintiffs have claimed that the elevators occasionally stopped entirely, trapping their passengers for periods of several hours. The complaint also alleged that the building was subject to flooding, water damage, and air conditioning breakdowns. The complaint pointed to two life safety flaws represented by two electrical explosions in the building since it was completed. The complaint noted that the building’s developers had commissioned an engineering report to document the existence of the alleged flaws but that the report verified only nine out of an alleged 1500 defects.
The New York Times reported that the building’s list of wealthy or celebrity tenants included Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriquez and a Saudi prince who is a member of the family that owns Jose Cuervo liquors.
This lawsuit involves many complex engineering and design issues. It is not likely to be resolved any time soon. Discovery alone will require many months to gather and analyze information on the many alleged defects. Anyone who is considering in making a similar claim or believes that such a claim may be filed against them may wish to contact a knowledgeable real estate or construction attorney for an evaluation of the facts of the case.